Sunday Schiano: QB health, play-calling, Etc.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano spoke with the media Sunday, after he was given a chance to review the film of the 17-14 loss to Tulane. He hit a bundle of topics, from the health of quarterback Tom Savage to the performance of replacement Chas Dodd. Schiano also discussed the play calling, the idea Rutgers wasn't properly prepared, personnel changes and much, much more.

Whether Tom Savage's injured right hand will be healed sufficiently enough for the sophomore quarterback to start Friday against Connecticut won't be known for at least another day, but it is clear Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is confident if freshman Chas Dodd gets the call.

A day after the disheartening 17-14 loss to Tulane, Schiano there wouldn't be an update on Savage's health until after Monday's morning practice, but he lauded Dodd's patience in the pocket and ability to locate open receivers against the Green Wave.

"I thought he did a good job," Schiano said. "Certainly, there's a balls I'm sure he'd like to have back. But he threw a lot of nice balls as well. I thought he showed good composure. He stayed in the pocket, gave routes a chance to develop.

"As I've said all along, I have confidence in Chas and I think he went out there and he played with confidence. Like I said, there's plays he'd like to have back but overall I thought he did a good job.''

Dodd finished 13 of 29 for 176 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also had a few passes dropped, a third-down completion to Mark Harrison late in fourth quarter nullified by a hold and showed very good presence in the pocket.

However, Dodd also under threw an open Harrison on a post-play in the third quarter and overthrew an open Jeremy Deering on a corner post pattern in the final minutes.

"I think Chas went in there and was very calm," Schiano said. "He stood in the pocket and gave plays a chance to develop and then he read them out and threw it. Not every throw was perfect, but you give yourself a chance when you let the plays develop and you stand in the pocket.

"Now, you have to trust the protection and you have to trust your eyes throwing the ball down field and I thought he did a good job of that."

Play-calling satisfaction
Schiano asked if he was satisfied in the play calling, which is done by co-offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca.

"We're all in it together. We game plan together," Schiano said. "We come up with the situations together. I'm not satisfied with our performance, I'm not satisfied with …in retrospect, you look back and you say, ‘maybe this would have worked better.'

"When we call it, we believe in what we're calling, and that's the most important."

Savage's injury
After the game Savage indicated he didn't think he had a broken bone in his hand, and he had his index and middle fingers taped together.

Although Schiano wouldn't discuss the extent of Savage's injury, or even pinpoint the source of it, he did talk about whether or not playing in pain could be an option.

"I'm not going to get into what the injuries are; I don't do that," Schiano said. "But it still boils down to 'Can you play the position with the pain?' If it's that then it's one thing; if it's an injury then we're not going to play a guy with an injury because that can get worse.

"There's the fine line between pain and injury and, with Tom's feedback, we have to figure out what that is."

Mixing and matching impressions
Rutgers allowed four sacks and the running game accounted for 148 yards (including Mohamed Sanu's 91-yard run) on 33 carries despite a different tact taken on the right side of the line.

Starting right tackle Art Forst was moved inside to right guard and replaced Antwan Lowery in passing situations while Devon Watkis played right tackle.

"We gave up four sacks," Schiano said. "We did some really good things as far as our physicality in the run game, blocking people. And then we did some things equally as poor in some of our pass protection.

"Just not yet where we need to be, which is obvious. And we have to continue to look and probe and seek to see what the best five combination is and at what positions. But it's execution at every position group and it's also coaching.''

Holding on
Schiano was asked if he saw a hold on Marcus Cooper that negated Joe Lefeged's kickoff return for a touchdown.

"Well, it's a hold if they call it a hold," he said. "I'm going to leave it at that."

Preparation upon review
Schiano wasn't the only one who spoke after the loss about a lack of focus for the Scarlet Knights, and he addressed comments by Savage and Sanu in which both also discussed it.

"I think a lot of times in retrospect people can see things a lot of different ways," Schiano said. "Did I think it was our best week of preparation? No, which not every week is your best week of preparation. But you need to go and execute at a level in a game. There needs to be minimum level of execution, and that's where we came up short.

"Our minimum level was not good enough, was not great enough, to get the desired result. Practice is often times in the eye of the beholder and I think there's some frustration in that we're not playing our best football. It's all part of it. Practice is part of it; mental preparation; pregame preparation; everything is part of it.

"I think you start to search for answers when you're not winning and then a lot of things go unnoticed when you are winning. I think what we need to do is just focus on our execution, and that's what we'll do."

Big East remedy?
Rutgers opens Big East play Friday against Connecticut. So, can that be a way to re-focus and jumpstart the season.?

"All that is nice to say and it's cliché-ish, but we need to worry not about the season, we need to worry about and concern ourselves with practice tomorrow, execution in practice," Schiano said. "Each game week is its own season, and we're now in the Connecticut season, and we need to invest in the Connecticut season all the way through the week and then go out and play the best we can Friday night.

"What that will produce in a result, I don't know. But you know what? If we don't put everything we've got into our preparation and invest everything we have in this week of practice, we're not going to like the result. That's where my mind is right now. It's like a batter when he's in a slump, you go back to the hitting tee, you don't go to the 90 mile per hour pitching machine."

Deering's development
After making his first career catch against North Carolina, freshman receiver Jeremy Deering made four for 66 yards and ran the "Wildcat" package four times for five yards against the Green Wave as his presence becomes more and more in the offense.

"Each week he's gaining experience, which is allowing him to become more comfortable," Schiano said. "He's starting to build some cumulative repetition with routes and concepts. I think as he becomes more comfortable, you're going to see his talents take over. He's a very talented guy."

Position/personnel changes Colin McEvoy was moved to fullback in response to the season-ending injury to Edmond Laryea, and he made his debut against Tulane and even made a nifty turning catch that netted 12 yards in the fourth quarter.

"McEvoy, I thought did a good job when was in there," Schiano said. "I think the more he does, the more comfortable he becomes."

Also, red-shirt freshman Logan Ryan replaced senior Brandon Bing at cornerback for a bit midway through the game.

"Bing and Ryan, we move those guys in and out quite a bit regularly," Schiano said. "In third down, Ryan will come in for David Rowe. Yesterday, we did play Ryan a little more even on first- and second-down situations. Just trying to play more people and I think there's healthy competition there."

Meanwhile, Fabian Ruiz said extended time as a blocking tight end.

"I think it was a combination of things," Schiano said. "No. 1, (Evan) Lampert's ankle is still not doing as well as we'd like, and it's been a little slower to heel than we thought. So, a combination of that and he's competing with Paul Carrezola, and we felt he did better at practice, so he got the nod as the second tight end in the two tight end sets.

"I think assignment-wise, he (was) pretty good. I hope as he gets more comfortable he can be more physical, but that's yet to be seen."

Punting woes
Senior Teddy Dellaganna had a miserable afternoon, averaging 32.2 yards on nine punts. Included in that was a 20-yard punt gave Tulane the ball on the Rutgers 33-yard line, and 21-yarder that stopped at the Rutgers 43-yard line.

The punts led to the Green Wave's two touchdowns while a 35-yarder, which gave Tulane the ball on its own 48, led to a field goal.

"We're going to study the tape with Teddy, I think," Schiano said. "He's his best own teacher and critic. I can help him and coach (Robb) Smith can help him, but really, he tells us stuff; ‘I was feeling this,' or ‘I felt this,' and then we'll just try to coach him during the week to get that corrected.

"You're right, his performance …he's had better performances, but so have we all."


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